Ground state energy, structure, and harmonic vibrational modes of 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium triflate ([bmim][Tf]) clusters have been computed using an all-atom empirical potential model. Neutral and charged species have been considered up to a size (30 [bmim][Tf] pairs) well into the nanometric range. Free energy computations and thermodynamic modeling have been used to predict the equilibrium composition of the vapor phase as a function of temperature and density. The results point to a nonnegligible concentration of very small charged species at pressures (P ~ 0.01 Pa) and temperatures (T 600 K) at the boundary of the stability range of [bmim][Tf]. Thermal properties of nanometric neutral droplets have been investigated in the 0 T 700 K range. A near-continuous transition between a liquidlike phase at high T and a solidlike phase at low T takes place at T ~ 190 K in close correspondence with the bulk glass point Tg ~ 200 K. Solidification is accompanied by a transition in the dielectric properties of the droplet, giving rise to a small permanent dipole embedded into the solid cluster. The simulation results highlight the molecular precursors of several macroscopic properties and phenomena and point to the close competition of Coulomb and dispersion forces as their common origin.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry